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Killjoys is a Canadian-American science fiction series; a co-production between Space Channel in Canada and Syfy in the U.S. It ran for five seasons from 2015 to 2019 and starred Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, and Luke Macfarlane.

The series takes place in a distant planetary system known as the Quad, ruled over by the morally ambiguous Company and kept peaceful (mostly) by Reclamation Agents or "Killjoys" - bounty hunters that track down and transport wanted items and individuals at the behest of various warrants. One such team of Killjoys consists of John Jaqobis (Ashmore) and Dutch (John-Kamen). The two are thrown for a loop when John's long-lost brother D'avin (Macfarlane) shows up with a bounty on his head, and through several incidents manages to be inducted into their team. Though they try to play by the rules and keep their heads down as they go after their warrants, the dark pasts of all three begin to catch up with them.


Spoilers for seasons 1, 2 and 3 are unmarked.

This series provides examples of the following:

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  • Action Girl:
    • The pilot episode solidly establishes Dutch as the deadliest and most badass member of the crew, as well as the boss of the team. Conversely, she often pretends to be a Faux Action Girl to get the drop on her targets.
    • Country girls from Leith learn how to fire a rifle before they learn how to thresh.
  • Aerith and Bob: D'avin and John, the Jaqobis brothers. Also, Khlyen and Dutch.
  • Air-Vent Passageway:
    • Dutch suggests doing this to infiltrate The RAC in 'Enemy Khlyen', but John points out that it would just expose her to enough radiation to melt her face off.
    • Zeph is using them to get food at the start of “Johnny Dangerously.”
  • The Alcatraz: In Season 5 Dutch, Johnny and D'avin are put into a supermax prison by the Lady. Escape is made even more difficult as it's a space station, rather than on a planet or moon.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Not only is the planet Qresh habitable, but two of its three moons are also inhabitable to one degree or another. Justified because the moons were terraformed by the Company, even though the terraforming of Arkyn was a failure. It is revealed in the first season finale that the terraforming of Arkyn was actually successful. The moon does have a breathable atmosphere.
  • All There in the Manual: The show's official website has a page that spells out many of the specifics about the setting of the show.
  • Alternate Universe: Season 5 opens in one later revealed to be the Lady dousing everyone with Fake Memories.
  • Alternative Calendar: The year is apparently "1062", without any explanation as yet of what the starting point was.
  • Always Someone Better: John has a bit of an inferiority complex towards his brother D'avin. It's exacerbated when D'avin gets fast-tracked to Level 4 when joining the RAC, one rank above John.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: When her sister's hand is infected by a virus which causes anything it touches to freeze, Pawter solves the problem by grabbing a nearby decorative sword and chopping off her hand.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Pretty much everything in the show that's connected to biochemistry / genetics / microbiology is utter nonsense. Like all the alien-microorganism- or nanobot-caused instant healing of even major injuries without any of the necessary additional energy / nutrient intake. (Plus, it's biochemically impossible for human cells to reproduce and grow that fast, even if you could stimulate them to do so through artificial means.) Or the "virus" that almost instantly freezes people solid starting at the point of exposurenote . Or Dutch turning out to be Aneela's "chiral" mirror image even on a molecular level, with her DNA helix supposedly turning the other way aroundnote  and the two strands supposedly being switched.note 
    • In a season 4 episode, Dutch decides to fly in close circles around a sun to create a higher g-force after her lab centrifuge wasn't strong enough to separate the cells from the suspension medium in some Applied Phlebotinum. This means that Dutch supposedly survived more than the 5000 to 15000 gnote  that even a small, low-speed desktop centrifuge can easily reach. Even if human tissue/bone could actually survive more than about 25 g for more than a second, at thousands of g, her blood cells should have clotted at the bottom of her heart and all her blood vessels, killing her through heart attack / brain embolism. So the nonsense in this episode isn't even internally consistent: Separating suspended cells from liquids is literally what this kind of low-power centrifuge is for, and what she was trying to do with their spore sample by pulling this stunt. But somehow it only happens to the sample, not her blood. Also, if it was actually acchievable the way she was planning, higher power (higher rotation speed) centrifugation than what the small desk centrifuge could do would have destroyed the spore cells in her sample, because separating the parts of cells (organelles, DNA strands, proteins, etc.) is what higher power centrifuges are for.note 
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • Played with for Pawter. She makes questionable medical decisions, but she's also a drug addict who was banished to Westerley by her family in order to cover up the fact that she killed a patient when operating while high. As such, it's unclear whether her actions are supposed to be considered reasonable in-universe, or if she's just a Back-Alley Doctor.
    • In "The Harvest", Pawter diagnoses D'avin's PTSD by deliberately putting him in a triggering situation—she asks him to stay and watch the Leithians pop off fireworks to celebrate, which causes him to have a flashback because they sound like guns. Suffice it to say that it is not accepted medical practice to force a patient into a bad episode to make sure you're right about what they have—especially if they're not even actually your patient yet.
    • Pawter also decides to have sex with D'avin, which is prohibited under medical ethics (and has been going back thousands of years, to Hippocrates). Even D'avin points out that her actions are pretty dang unethical.
  • Artistic License – Physics: When D'avin detonates an EMP inside the RAC headquarters, it disables internal comms, security, and primary lighting, but not life support, Artificial Gravity or emergency lighting (though this might be justified, as it's not physically impossible to shield against an EMP attack-via Farraday cages-and it would make sense to put those essential survival systems in separate computers shielded against possible attacks. On the other hand, not shielding the security systems as well would be a clear case of Idiot Ball on part of the RAC engineers).
    • Also, the planet and moons in the Quad all have very different sizes, and yet all of them have the same gravity. Realistically, even with terraforming, either the planet would have far too high gravity for humans to survive, or the moons shouldn't even be able to hold any atmosphere or water they imported there during the terraforming process. While the setting clearly has artificial gravity on the ships, it's never established how they managed to increase the gravity on the moons' surfaces (if they buried a massive infrastructure system of "gravity generators" of some sort, they should already be finished with mining the ground as well).
    • The planet and moons are also almost Single Biome Planets, with Leith for example being covered in lush vegetation and apparently (sub)tropical temperatures all over (there aren't even any major bodies of water to be seen from space - how the hell does the water cycle on that moon work and generate enough rain for all that vegetation?!), except for a small area at the poles that's covered in snow and pine forests. Meanwhile, Arkyn is apparently constantly frozen over, despite getting basically the same amount of energy due to being at the same distance from the sun (though that might be possible if there's almost no carbondioxide in the atmosphere due to a lack of volcanism or much inhabitation by people. They did establish that there's no plant life viable there for some unexplained reason, so the atmosphere, and especially the oxygen, must be completely imported).
  • Asteroid Thicket: The moon Arkyn is surrounded by a ring of asteroids so dense it can mask the presence of a derelict ship for years.
  • Ate His Gun: One of the prison escapees in "Wild, Wild Westerley" chooses to go out this way rather than return, then be tortured into giving the others up.
  • Baby Factory: There is an entire cult of Leithian girls who devote their entire lives to serve as surrogate mothers for the richest members of the Nine Families of Qresh. For the Qreshi they are simply a means to avoid the inconvenience of pregnancy.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In 'Reckoning Ball', D'avin and Dutch are trying to implant a memory in an imprisoned Hullen, and the plan to do so requires them to convincingly act out a scenario where Dutch has decided to leave the team. Their performances are not convincing in the slightest (at least initially).
  • Bad Boss: Khlyen. He shoots people, stabs them, and screams at them.
  • Bar Brawl: A regular occurrence at the end of every harvest season, when the seasonal workers return from Leith to Westerley flush with cash, pent up anger and a desire to party. Pree's not-entirely-free drinks to Dutch and company are compensated for by them being unofficial bouncers at his bar when in port during that time.
  • The Bartender: Pree runs the bar in Westerley where the crew spends most of their down time. Curiously enough, he also fills the role of Miss Kitty, since he owns the establishment and runs the prostitutes.
  • Batman Gambit: In the penultimate episode of season 1, it turns out that Khlyen set one up. He trained Dutch as an assassin, then allowed her to escape and become a Killjoy, while getting into RAC's command himself. He's been keeping Dutch's RAC records clean, waiting until she took a Level 5 warrant, proving she's ready to kill again. Only then did he reveal himself. Unfortunately for him, John and D'avin threw a bit of a wrench into that plan when John picked up D'avin's kill warrant in her name, causing Khlyen to play his hand too soon.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: John's favorite method of infiltration is to show up at a place he's not supposed to be and fast talk his way in, often to fix a mechanical issue that he actually caused. If that fails, he'll gas or tase the guard instead.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Dutch always comes out of fights with her hair, makeup, and clothes intact. There are a few exceptions — her fight with D'avin in 'Kiss, Kiss, Bye Bye' left her with some heavy bruising on her face — but they are rare.
    • The Jaqobis brothers are also offenders, as they frequently take blows to the face that leave little more than a minor cut that disappears shortly after (John's beating near the end of Season 2 being an exception).
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: "Shaft" has cat-sized centipedes, called mossipedes, which hunt humans and can release a toxin that causes hallucinations. They also contain the green plasma used in the Red 17 Super Soldier program, which causes them to be repulsed by D'avin.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A common occurance, with the members of Team Awesome Force taking turns playing this role in various episodes.
    • John ends up playing this role more often than most would expect, since bad guys tend to underestimate him as the team tech guy until he suddenly appears out of nowhere to wreck their shit. It is always immensely satisfying.
  • Big Damn Kiss: "I Love Lucy" has three examples. John kisses Lucy (in a fembot), Dutch kisses Alvis and D'avin kisses Sabine (the latter two having sex as well).
  • Bio-Augmentation: Many people are seen possessing various enhancements. There are laws in place that are intended to prevent people from augmenting themselves too much.
    • Clara, a young woman Dutch comes across, was forcibly augmented until 26% of her body was cybernetic, rendering her inhuman in the eyes of the law. Among her augmentations are a heavy-duty Arm Cannon and a brain block preventing her from attacking the people who enslaved her.
    • The Red 17 project is focused on creating Level 6 RAC agents. Their blood is replaced with a green plasma that gives them an enhanced healing factor, augments their strength, and prevents them from feeling pain or physically aging.
  • Body Horror: The Deadly Gas in "Wild, Wild Westerly" completely desiccates the body if inhaled, killing the victim in under a minute. The only way to neutralize the gas is to drown the victim and hope you can revive them after the fact.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass:
    • In "One Blood," Pawter uses the breath of a high-ranking Company official to unlock his datapad.
    • In order to access a voice-locked computer controlled by Kyhlen, John copies his voice by having Dutch get him to speak over an open comm.
    • Jelco's computer is controlled by a DNA lock. When Pawter needs access to it, he provides an opportunity by asking her to help with his heart condition. A little blood plus some sedative to keep him out provides her with everything she needs.
    • In a rare consensual version of this, Delle Seyah Kendry kisses Dutch so she can blow some air into her mouth, in order to access a DNA scanner that analyzes breath. Dutch needed access to restore life support and Kendry could barely move, hence why she didn't just do it herself, though the chance to kiss Dutch likely factored into that decision.
  • Bounty Hunter: Our heroes' job. As a matter of fact there's an entire organization of them called the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition, commonly known as The Rack.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "How to Kill Friends and Influence People":
    Johnny: This is crazy. This is bullshit. This is crazy bullshit!
  • Buffy Speak: D'avin has a tendency to pepper his speech with extremely technical terms like explode-y, hinky, and war-crime-y.
    • In 'Attack the Rack', John is tortured with a device that will cause him to slowly lose memories and words, leading to this exchange with Dutch after she rescues him.
    John: "Hells, we share fifty percent of the same genetic materials as that... soft, yellow thing with the peel."
    Dutch: "What?"
    John: "Did I mention that my brain has been set to scramble for the past hour?"
  • Bulletproof Vest: One of these saves John's life when Dutch shoots him — again — in 'The Wolf You Feed', which he was counting on. Since she was stuck reliving a flashback to the day they met, he knew she was likely going to shoot him and planned accordingly.
    • Body armor saves D'avin's life when John shoots him in the back at point blank range, although it clearly hurt a lot and appeared to knock him out briefly.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": In "Full Metal Monk", Dutch insists she would never make D'avin choose between her and John... except she has to in this instance.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Money is called "joy" and prostitutes are called "sexers."
  • Camp Gay: Pree, the proprietor/bartender at our heroes favorite bar on Westerley.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: All the action on the show takes place in the neighborhood of a single inhabitable planet and its three inhabitable moons. The crew has no problem moving between them extremely fast.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel:
    • Not shown in the first season, but heavily implied. While all the action takes place in a single star system, in the pilot episode D'avin arrives there from somewhere else on a ship making the rounds in the local star cluster, and implies he is a veteran of wars across the galaxy. Though given that he's working off his passage in the ring it's clearly expensive and takes a long time.
    • In the second season Khlyen and Fancy Lee travel to Telen (the Jaqobis' home-world that is described as being in the "ass-end of the galaxy") in a matter of days, although they have access to technology far more advanced than the rest of the J.
    • The third season shows an example of instantaneous interplanetary travel through what's called alternatively called a "bounce" and a "boost". The characters react as if it's not unusual.
  • Category Traitor: Westerlyns who work for the Company's security forces are particularly hated by the rest of the Westerlyns.
  • The Church: The Scarbacks are a monastic order, and the only religious organization seen, whose monks seek enlightenment through pain. They get their name from verses of scripture that they carve into their backs.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Dutch was trained to be able to kill anyone with anything, and will not hesitate to fight dirty if necessary to win. Since she's usually going up against men who are larger and stronger than her, it's necessary and justified.
    • D'avin is not afraid to fight dirty when necessary. John calls him out for using a Groin Attack on his own brother in the first episode.
    • John has the least combat training on the team and his hand to hand fights tend to be more brawls than elegantly choreographed beat downs. He's aware of his lack of skill, and so he usually tries to end things quickly with an Improvised Weapon and a Boom, Headshot!.
  • Company Town: On a truly gigantic scale, since they are in effect Company Moons.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "Johnny Be Good," D'avin references the fact that he tried to kill Dutch.
    • This exchange between John, D'avin and Jelco in "Heist, Heist Baby" references the previous season.
    Jelco: If anything, I owe you two a thank you.
    D'avin: For what, taking you hostage?
    John: Getting you fired?
    D'avin: Exploding your house?
    John: I forgot about that one, that's a good one.
  • Cool Ship:
    • The crew's ship, the Lucy. On top of being an awesome little cruiser, it has its own sentient A.I.
    • Romwell has a ship made from a hollowed-out asteroid. John can barely contain his glee upon seeing it.
  • The Coup: Seyah Kendry pulls off one of these in the episode "Escape Velocity", killing all but three of the Nine Families and assuming control of Qresh.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Company occasionally executes prisoners by staking them out in acid rain storms and letting nature do the work for them.
  • Cutting the Knot: When John locks down Lucy with a device meant to help Dutch and D'avin work through their trust issues, he fails to anticipate them being parked over an acid rain storm at the time. The storm causes the ship's orbit to decay and the device won't allow them to fire the engines. Unable to get it to shut down, Dutch and D'avin finally just smash the device, restoring Lucy.

  • Decadent Court: It can be inferred that Dutch’s homeworld had one of these, since the girls of the Royal Harem are trained since infancy on how to kill people.
  • Deadly Gas: One is released to kill the prisoners during a breakout from a corporate prison, but falls into the hands of one escapee instead. Finally it winds up with scarback priest Alvis, who nearly releases it into the air duct to Spring Hill before he has a change of heart and reverses the flow, which almost kills him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dutch, John, and D'avin all snark, but Lucy, the ship's AI, takes the cake.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: In "A Glitch in the System", Dutch and D'avin are infected by nanites designed to torture them for information by destroying parts of their body as coercion, then repair them once they've obtained the truth. However, they're also programmed to repair damage to prisoners and will default to this state if an injury not caused by coercion mode is detected, as you can't torture the dead. Dutch exploits this by jumping out the airlock to Lucy, knowing the nanites will repair the damage from her unprotected jump. John, meanwhile, shoots D'avin in the leg so the nanites will focus on repairing him.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Dutch doesn't usually answer to her birth name, Yalena, or the nickname 'Yala'. Although she doesn't object when Johnny calls her Yalena, which suggests she may only object to Khlyen using it.
  • Dope Slap: Dutch has a tendency to smack John between the eyes whenever he's being ridiculous.
    • Bellus does the same thing to Dutch in the first episode after learning that she has D'avin hiding out on her ship instead of killing him like she was supposed to.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: In the season 3 episode "The Lion, the Witch and the Warlock", Pree is captured by his old mercenary gang and their leader (his ex-lover). They plan to execute him for running away from the gang / the ex, and the last we see of him in one late scene is him surrounded by drawn guns and asking to be forgiven for leaving the ex. Then he shows up to rescue Dutch and Johnny, explaining that the mercenaries decided not to kill him after all, and in return, he "had to put out. A lot." This implies the previous scene ended in a gang bang - but, even though Pree and the leader clearly still have feelings for each other and even if Pree maybe wouldn't mind having sex with the rest of the mercenaries under normal circumstances. Double standard because, this wouldn't have gotten past the radar with a woman.
  • Dug Too Deep: Two separate examples:
    • A group of miners eventually dig straight into the habitat of man-eating cat-sized centipedes.
    • Khlyen refers to his discovery of the Green Plasma on Arkyn as a case of digging too far and awakening an ancient evil.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Khlyen appears and breaks a man's neck early in the pilot. It's made clear later in the episode that Dutch knows him, but he isn't named or identified for quite a while.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: John and Pree go undercover as a couple and, as part of their con, have an argument about Pree's mother always coming to visit them. When John calls the woman a "big fat raging bitch", an entire room full of violent criminals stop what they're doing to glare at John.
    Entire room: Whoa! Whoa! Hey! Whoa!
    Crook: You don't disrespect your man's mother! What's wrong with you?!?!
  • Evil Mentor: Khlyen, if only because he was making Dutch into an assassin, and through Training from Hell at that.
  • Explosive Leash:
    • Jelco fits Pawter with an explosive ankle bracelet while she's at the Spring Hill complex, preventing her from leaving. When he needs her assistance dealing with a heart condition, she sedates him, uses his DNA to unlock it, then fits it to him so she can leave while he can't stop her. He is able to get it removed, and in "Full Metal Monk" he asks her if she would like it back.
    • Dutch puts one on Sabine as part of keeping her prisoner.
  • Face Stealer: "A Skinner, Darkly" has an underground clinic providing face transplants using the green plasma as a bonding agent. Surprisingly, it's not connected to the main conspiracy; the cyborg doing the work happened upon a sample and got creative.
  • Faction Motto: The entirety of The RAC's existence is predicated on one single guiding principle: "The warrant is all".
  • False Flag Operation: In the season finale, Alvis is framed for an attack on Leith committed by his sect. In fact, it was arranged by the Company to give them an excuse not to honor their immigration contract.
  • Fanservice: Dutch's clothes during undercover missions qualify, particularly in "Bangarang" and "The Harvest".
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • The booze of choice in the Quad is something called "hokk," distilled from some sort of berry grown in plantations on Leith.
    • There's also something called "jakk", which seems to grow in giant pods (almost like massive pea pods) that hang from trees. It's extremely illegal, and any known "grows" are stamped out immediately with extremely toxic deforestation agent. We later learn that jakk is a powerful stimulant with extreme withdrawal symptoms and is 100% addictive from the first try.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The people from Qresh look down on the Leithians, who in turn despise the Westerlyns.
    • Illegally modified cyborgs hate normal humans, calling them "basics". A bar full of them is ready to lynch John for being normal until he agrees to get an implant.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Female members of the Nine use the title "Seyah" between their first and last names while males use "Seyoh", such as Delle Seyah Kendry and Illenore Seyah Simms, and are addressed as "Seyah/Seyoh [FAMILY NAME]".
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • Being called a "Wester-slag" by the guy whose ass she just kicked (as well as not at least hearing out her offer) is enough for Dutch to identify him as working for one of the Nine Families of Qresh and not a mercenary.
    • Normal humans are called "basics" by cyborgs.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Dr. Jaeger would rather be shot dead than undergo her own procedure.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jelco. He has perfect Qreshi manners, and perfect aim as he casually shoots Hills in the head.
  • Fembot: Romwell owns three he uses as his bodyguards in "I Love Lucy", one of which John has Lucy hack and take over. John calls them "gynoids".
  • Feudal Future: Whichever system Dutch is from, it's ruled by a monarchy. Qresh's nine families may technically be corporate, but with their status being related to inherited land ownership they're essentially aristocrats.
  • First-Episode Twist: If you've seen any of the promotional materials, it won't be a surprise that in the first episode the warrant that Johnny gets is for his brother...who will go on to be part of their team.
  • Food as Bribe: Our heroes have free drinks at Pree's bar... free as in "don't need to spend money". Instead, they break up any brawls that happen.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the episode "Vessel", Dutch asks one of the assassins attacking the convent if he is a Leithian nationalist. Said Leithian nationalists show up two episodes later.
    • When the crew tries to salvage a derelict military ship, the ship's AI tries to interrogate them about something called "Red 17". They assume the glitchy AI is just assigning meaning to nothing, but then Turin asks D'avin the same question.
      • In the same episode with the military spaceship, on the Wall of Crazy that the guard had assembled in the infirmary there was the term "AKKIN" scrawled between a bunch of proper words like "LIES" and "FAIL". Apparently, at least one person on that torture blacksite ship did know a bit more about what they were supposed to interrogate their prisoners about (possibly the captain?) - it's just that the guard who heard that confession wasn't from the Quad and thus didn't know how to spell "Arkyn".
    • In the pilot, Dutch gets out of a major breach of RAC protocol without so much as a slap on the wrist, implicitly thanks to Khlyen pulling some strings. It's later shown that he's a member of the RAC's highest echelons, so high up in fact that even Turin doesn't know anything about him.
    • In "Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye" Pawter threatens to use her family connections to have a man "staked in the rain" if he ignores her request for a med-evac. The meaning of this threat doesn't become clear until the episode "Come the Rain", where it is shown that one execution method the Company uses is to leave the convicted secured to a stake during an acid rain, slowly melting the person alive.
    • In "Escape Velocity" Seyah Kendry jokes about shiving a member of Land Hyponia, as she does not like them. Fast forward to the next season and in "Full Metal Monk" Arune Hyponia has become the leader of the family and is Pawter's main ally among the Nine to go after Land Kendry. He gets killed in the same episode by Jelco, who's acting on orders from Kendry.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "Meet the Parents", D'avin and Khlyen end up swapping minds thanks to Khlyen linking to D'avin through the green plasma and D'avin trying to turn the link on Khlyen. It has to be reversed since the link wasn't meant to be used as such and is killing D'avin.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Reclamation Apprehension Coalition.
  • Genre Shift: Killjoys began as a show about sci-fi bounty hunters chasing down targets before morphing into a saga about what it means to be human and a desperate war for humanity's survival.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The wall around Old Town has the ability to alter the brain chemistry of anyone inside, rendering them docile.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Delle Seyah Kendry says this of the Westerly immigration contract. At the time, promising to allow seventh generation residents to immigrate as long as they took Company jobs seemed like a good way to pacify them. The Nine never expected such a large number to actually stick it out long enough to qualify. So they decide to renege on the deal through a False Flag Operation that frames the rebels for an attack on Leith, then bomb Old Town.
  • The Great Wall: In season 2, the Company has installed a high-tech force-field wall surrounding Old Town, which is meant to break their spirits so they won't think of acting against the Company ever again. Pawter discovers that the Company actually plans to wall off every city in Westerly, suggesting this is actually a much more permanent arrangement.
  • Hate Plague: The wall around Old Town is supposed to calm people, but it can be reconfigured to drive them to rage instead. Pawter uses this to incite the town to throw themselves at the wall despite the fact that it will kill them, overloading the wall and collapsing it.
  • Healing Factor: The green plasma gives people one. Romwell also has one with nanites, which also keep him from aging.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Weymer Simms triggers the explosive to destroy the virus which is killing his family, dying in the process. He was already infected himself.
    • Khlyen infects himself with a toxin that poisons the source of the green plasma to stop the Sixes in the Quad, dying in the process.
    • Pip sacrifices himself to trigger the RAC's self-destruct sequence.
  • Homing Projectile: Fancy Lee's fancy dart launcher projects darts that don't even bother with line-of-sight.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: N'oa, one of the working girls that John patronizes in Westerley, is so nice that John can't help but want to help her when her husband goes missing.
  • Hostile Terraforming: In season 5, the Lady is terraforming Westerly to make a new home for her species. The team has a little under a month to stop it before the entire planet can no longer support human life.
  • Hostile Weather:
    • Westerly is occasionally beset by magneto-active acid rainstorms, a result of all the pollution from strip-mining the planet.
    • The Jacobis' home planet is subject to lethal silica dust storms.

  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Dutch and Aneela dress differentlynote , wear different hairstylesnote , and drastically different makeupnote . When Aneela is pretending to be Dutch in the final two episodes of Season 3, she's still sporting black fingernails so that the viewers can tell them apart.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The majority of episodes have titles taken from movies or other media: for example, "Kiss Kiss Bye Bye", "Enemy Khlyen", "Dutch and the Real Girl", "Wild, Wild Westerley", "Shaft", "Meet the Parents", "I Love Lucy", "Heart-Shaped Box", "Full Metal Monk", "Johnny Be Good", "How to Kill Friends and Influence People", "A Skinner, Darkly", "The Hullen Have Eyes", "The Lion, the Witch & the Warlord", "Attack the Rack", "Necropolis Now", "Heist, Heist Baby", "The Warrior Princess Bride", "Johnny Dangerously", "O Mother, Where Art Thou?"
  • I Gave My Word: Once a warrant is accepted, a Killjoy is honor-bound to see it through to the end. Failure to do so can result in expulsion or death depending on the type of warrant.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Dutch uses a low-cut dress to get what she wants from a male Six by showing her cleavage.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Jelco turns out to be related to the "lower families" of Qresh, who have lesser status vis-a-vis the Nine. He has Pawter Simms imprisoned in Spring Hill partly because that way she — a person with high status (even with her jakk addiction forcing her to live on Westerley) — has to listen to him and do anything he wants to make her do.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Khlyen gets Dutch to cooperate by threatening vague reprisal against John.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Happens to Turin courtesy of Khlyen, who did it to protect Dutch. It surprisingly doesn't kill him.
  • Impoverished Patrician: This is one of the two Leithian hats. They are all descendants of some Qreshi fourth or fifth son, sent to Leith when land got scarce on Qresh.
    Old Joke: "What do you get when you scratch a Leithian? - A Qreshi ancestor who's embarrassed to be there."
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Seyah Kendry gets one when Johnny calls her out for using the genetic bomb.
    Seyah Kendry: Oh, don't be such a killjoy. [beat] Hah! I just got that.
  • Indentured Servitude:
    • The situation D'avin finds himself in at the beginning of the show. Poor passengers pay their fare on starship Arcturus by indentured service until they pay off their debt and are left on the port of their choice. Said service takes the form of fighting for the viewing pleasure of an audience and, as a bonus, the fights are often rigged so that entertaining fighters are kept on for much longer to entertain those wealthy enough to buy a ticket.
    • Farms on Leith operate this way: workers are prohibited from escaping their farms before their contract's up (unless they give notice and agree to forfeit all pay) and while paid for their work if they stick it out, are booted off the planet as soon as their contract expires.
  • Industrial Ghetto: The Company has turned the entire moon Westerley into one of these, being the system's industrial center, but also impoverished and polluted.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • In the season finale, Pree grabs a bottle of 60 year old hokk when Old Town and his bar are about to be destroyed.
    • Likewise, Hills raids Pree's mostly-empty bar for a drink as the bombers lay waste to the town.
  • Insistent Terminology: The people who work for the RAC are "Reclamation Agents", not "bounty hunters" or "killjoys", thank you very much. They do call themselves "Killjoys" in private conversations or when they need to identify themselves quickly in the field, though. It takes on additional meaning when you realize that "joy" is a euphemism for money or getting paid, thus a "killjoy" is one who kills for their pay: an assassin or hired killer. Or killed someone's pay day.
  • Intimate Healing: Sabine was a Level 6 and sex with D'avin purged enough of the green plasma from her system to temporarily undo the conditioning that blocks her emotions.
  • Intimate Psychotherapy: Pawter sleeps with D'avin while treating him for PTSD. Pree and eventually D'avin himself both call her on this. Pawter herself freely admits that it's unethical and she's scratching an itch.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In 'The Harvest', N'oa's husband just laughs and says "she should have made better choices" when Johnny tells him how much trouble N'oa will be in if he doesn't get home immediately. When Johnny takes the guy in for illegal immigration at the end of the episode, he tells him "you should have made better choices".
    • In ‘Shaft’, Jelco fits Pawter with an explosive ankle bracelet so that she can’t leave Spring Hill, and reminds her of it by telling her if she goes too far outside the compound’s perimeters, “pretty princess goes boom.” Later, when Jelco discovers Pawter put the bracelet around his heart, she tells him “I wouldn’t push that too far if I were you...or the little prick goes boom.”
  • It Can Think: In the second season finale Khlyen reveals that the Plasma has a degree of sentience and it's controlling the Sixes.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Dutch uses physical torture on Sabine when she's trying to get information from her, and is apparently an expert from her days under Khlyen. It doesn't do much good, as Sabine was already open to giving away secrets thanks to the serum in her brain having been depleted.
    • Turin also has a dedicated blacksite specifically to "interrogate" Sixes. Though at least he plans to extract information on other moles by technological means (basically a sci-fi lie detector combined with face recognition software), not simply brute force. He says he developed this interrogation technique because Sixes don't break because of pain - implying that he did try that first on other off-screen captured Sixes.
    • Dutch has no problems torturing people in general, even people who could be innocents for all she knows, which is part of the whole "raised to be a borderline sociopath" thing Khlyen put her through as a child. For example, in the first season, she ties the random guy Khlyen orders her to assassinate to a chair and leaves him alone without water for several days, just on the off-chance the guy might know why Khlyen wants him dead. He insists that he really doesn't know, so she beats him up some more and then tells him to run and hide.
    • An unspecified governmental army (not from the Quad) maintains an entire spaceship as a dedicated blacksite to torture people with nanobots (which also quickly heal the victims again, so there has to be no limit to the brutality and length of the torture). This is presented as not particularly unusual for professional military institutions in this setting.
    • The Company cops in Old Town (led by Officer Hills, who is not meant to be a bad guy) beat Alvis bloody after arresting him for a false flag terror attack on Leith that others of his Scarback order have supposedly committed, with the goal of the torture being to force a false confession.
    • Jelco has a reputation for using this.
    • A mining union boss (who is also not supposed to be a bad guy, only looking out for the oppressed people of Old Town) tortures Dutch with "micro-leeches" that make her bleed internally and vomit up the blood whenever she lies, in order to get information on the whereabouts of the guy who oppressed Old Town, whom Dutch just helped escape from the uprising.
    • In the season 3 episode "The Lion, the Witch and the Warlord", D'avin, of all peoplenote  takes a Killjoy colleague (who had a perfectly legitimate warrant for hunting Johnny and who was also not characterized as a bad person) and holds him upside down, dropping him on his head a few timesnote , so the guy will tell him who took out the warrant on Johnny. This example is especially awful because it's played as a comedy scene, instead of serving to show how ruthless the interrogating character is. It's like the writer thought beating up the equivalent of an internal affairs officer who's going after a cop who broke the rules and shot someone without it being self-defense somehow doesn't count as torture / police brutality.
    • By the time of "Attack the Rack", Fancy has invented a new, creative way to torture information out of a captive Hullen: a device that dials up their perception of their own internal noises (blood pumping, eyeball movement, etc.) up to 9000, which apparently is both painful and will drive them insane very quickly. (It works to a degree, but the Hullen is tough enough to last a few rounds and good enough at psychological manipulation to turn the tables on Fancy - partly because they didn't think to tie her to the chair.) Also, some Hullen (Black Root?) specialists torture the Jacobi brothers by putting Johnny in a Mind Rape chair that slowly strips his memories from him (which also physically hurts him), while simultaneously making D'avin (who is tougher and doesn't cheerish his mental faculties so much) watch his brother suffer. (Though the torturer gives up after just a few rounds because D'avin shows off his special powers and thus makes abducting him a higher priority.) Meanwhile, Aneela thinks she keeps her Hullen servants in line by manipulating the plasma in their bodies to perform something similar to Darth Vader's force choke - she uses this to force her right hand man to thank Kendry, whom he despises for usurping his position.
    • And a couple of episodes after that, when the Aneela's Hullen "servants" (really her handlers / prison guards) kidnap Kendry for medical experimentation, Aneela desperately tries to find her, putting the previously mentioned guy through a truly impressive amount of gory (though mostly off-screen) torture. Constant drowning and regenerating for days, several rounds of blinding him with spikes, literally wearing his guts for garters, etc. Though, as Turin had predicted, all this pain fails to break a Hullen. So eventually she just links him up with the Green to read his mind - which is what he wanted, because that way, he can also share what he knows with the Lady.
    • And in season 4, even though it had previously been established that it's pointless to try to torture a Hullen through conventional means of pain infliction, an elite Black Root Super Soldier immediately spills all the info he knows after D'avin tasers him just once. The Hullen's superiors were even expecting this and put a kill switch on him to stop him talking. It's not at all presented as if this case was unusual or surprising, and D'avin (who had just again criticized Dutch for her torture-happy attitude a couple episodes before, and specifically took his son away from her because she was trying to teach him how to torture people) wasn't even trying a different approach to extracting information from their prisoner first.
    • Basically, there's a lot of Cold-Blooded Torture happening on this show and everyone, including the "good guys" seems to believe it's no big deal and Torture Always Works (even on inhuman, instantly regenerating Super Soldiers). Partly 'justified' in that, unlike in the real world where lie detectors aren't admissable in court for good reason, there's a wide array of technobabble-based infallible lie detector technologies and truth serums in this setting. But even when those aren't used, nobody ever seems to think of just providing false information or saying whatever the torturer wants to hear until they can't believe anything the victim says anymore. The only reason torture fails to work in this show is if the victim genuinely doesn't know anything or if they are tough enough to make jokes and stall until they're rescued within the hour.
  • Jerkass: Fancy sees his contribution to the RAC as being the "designated asshole." That is, he's the guy who says and does the things that nobody likes but everybody knows are necessary. Like when he does a Mercy Kill on legendary RAC agent Big Joe, whom all the other killjoys look up to and revere, so that his death-by-level-5-warrant will be quick and tidy.
  • Keystone Army: The green plasma is linked to a single source tree that, if poisoned, will neutralize all the connected plasma. Downplayed in that there are dozens of such sources, so taking out one only knocks out a small portion of the whole operation.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Dutch tends to get into scraps while wearing fancy dresses a whole lot. And it's glorious when it happens.
  • Kill It with Ice: "Meet the Parents" features a virus which causes anything it comes into contact with to freeze. It was meant as a weapon of last resort, but is released on the Simms household in an attempt to eliminate the family.
  • La Résistance: The Company's behavior towards the people of the moons has led to the creation of dissident groups on both worlds:
    • On Westerley, there is a group led by Alvis plotting revolution against the abuses of the Company.
    • On Leith, there are scattered groups of nationalists/survivalists who want either Leithian independence or who simply hate Westerlyns enough to try to keep them from moving to Leith upon the seventh generation, when they become eligible for land grants and legal immigration.
  • Lens Flare: Used quite frequently.
  • Like Brother and Sister: John says Dutch is like this to him, so that after she and D'avin have sex, it's as if his brother is doing it with his sister.
  • Locked Room Mystery: In 'Necropolis Now', Dutch and D'avin are stuck in an elevator with members of the Nine families, who are being killed off one at a time. Subverted when it turns out the killer wasn't in the elevator with them at all, but was killing them from afar with robotech they had all swallowed earlier in the episode.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...: Even though all the characters are humans, no mention is ever made of Earth or if it even exists in the setting. Supplemental materials explain that the local star cluster is known as "The J" and contains tons of inhabited planets and moons, but not in which galaxy it is located or when the story takes place.
    • The only vague references to Earth are in certain phrases used by the characters which directly relate to Earth culture, plus frequent mention of distinctly Terran animals (none of which seem to actually exist in The J). Dutch also mentions 'the First Colonies', indicating that The J was settled by travelers from another part of the universe.
  • Loophole Abuse: In the season 2 premiere, Dutch and John take a contract to locate a device which will let them pass through Arkyn's atmosphere. The device is implanted in a cybernetically-enhanced woman, and has safeguards that will cause it to explode if tampered with. Once she's aided them, John is able to get out of the contract by pointing out that it specifies arresting any person who possesses the technology, and since cyborgs aren't people by law, she's not part of the contract.

  • Madness Mantra: D'avin repeatedly says "I'm a good soldier" when Dr. Jager reactivates his kill mode.
  • Make an Example of Them:
    • The Company executes prisoners by leaving them bound outside during acid rain storms, melting their flesh off, so their screams will remind everyone else to follow the rules.
    • After Old Town is bombed and sealed off, the man in charge explains that he intends to wait until Old Town is so desperate that they'll sing the Company's praises just to be released.
  • Meaningful Name: "Quad" means "four," and the Quad System consists of the planet Qresh and its three moons Arkyn, Leith, and Westerley. Originally all four were habitable, but overmining rendered Arkyn incapable of supporting life (which is later revealed to be a coverup) and Westerley just barely so. Qresh itself is also slowly recovering from some as-yet unspecified ecological disaster that left half its landmass submerged.
  • Mega-Corp: Known only as The Company, it runs everything in the Quad System with the exception of The Rack.
  • Mercy Kill: Dutch kills an old scarback monk who'd been tortured and imprisoned for centuries at his request to end his pain, despite Alvis's objections.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The final shot of season 2 reveals that Aneela is in command of a truly massive organic looking starship, surrounded by an entire fleet of Black Root ships. It’s really an elaborate prison the other Hullen keep her in so they can study her experiments with the plasma.
  • Mind Rape: The biggest hurdle to turn a person into a Level 6 is not finding a candidate that can survive the physical aspects of the procedure, it's the fact that the severing of the individual's emotions and everything else that makes them human in the process is so traumatic that it utterly destroys most people's minds. Those who are already antisocial or no longer have any family or friends are more likely to survive.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: D'avin and Sabine's sex scene is a particularly egregious example, with her pulling up a sheet over her breasts as she falls back while hemorrhaging green plasma, whereas previously the camera was simply panned below to conceal them.
  • Morton's Fork: In an example of this used positively, Dutch delivers a baby to the leader of one of the nine families on Qresh, said baby being the only living heir to another of the families. Despite the fact that said leader either intentionally tried to murder the child or was forced to play politics, Dutch is sure the child will be safe. Either she's a good person and will keep the child safe, or she's opportunistic and will have to keep the child safe so his land holdings can be controlled by her.
  • Moving the Goalposts: How the Arcturus keeps ahold of the good slave fighters that bring in the big audiences. D'avin is stuck in such a situation because he's too good a brawler.
  • Mundane Utility: Alvis surmises that the Scarbacks' bloodletting rituals may have originated as a means of identifying those infected with the green plasma.
  • Murder, Inc.: The RAC issues death warrants that can be accepted by senior members. If the agent fails to execute the target (thus breaking the contract), then the agent becomes the target until either the agent or the original target is dead.
  • Mysterious Past: Dutch has one that involves being trained in torture and assassination when she was just a child. D'avin deduces she has one because of her level of training and is the main reason he doesn't trust her initially.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Delle Seyah with Jaq during seasons 3 and 4.
  • Nanomachines:
    • In "A Glitch in the System", the crew tries to salvage a ship which is actually a black-ops military torture vessel. It uses nanites to torture prisoners for information by deconstructing various body parts, then reassembling them once the truth is told.
    • The Collector of the Strange Romwell is immortal thanks to some healing nanites which worked a little too well.
  • Name McAdjective: Going hand in hand with his tendency to use Buffy Speak, D'avin also gets creative with names from time to time. Highlights include Baroness von Batshit (Delle Seyah) and Chest Wound McGee (John).
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: In "I Love Lucy", Dutch needs to find a key which is kept in a room of visually identical keys. Though she knows roughly where Romwell took it from, she still has trouble finding the right one. She eventually realizes that John handled the right one for a moment, and so starts scanning the keys for his DNA.
  • N-Word Privileges: Killjoys get pissed when somebody else (usually Company personnel) calls them that, but they have no problem using the word among themselves.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: After John headshots the Level 6 agent attacking Dutch in 'Escape Velocity', she borrows his gun and fires several more rounds into his body. Justified, as at that point they still aren't sure how to kill Level 6 agents or even if they can be killed.
  • Non-Indicative Name: As of season 2, the Nine have been reduced to Three as a result of Seyah Kendry's coup and Jelco killing the head of Land Hyponia on orders from Kendry. Louella Simms attempting to kill the remaining families out of grief over her sister’s death reduces them even further, but they're still collectively referred to as "the Nine".
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently something caused a great deal of landmass on Qresh to be lost underwater, which dispossessed a lot of rich people of their shares in the Company being based on land ownership there. Reclamation efforts are a high priority since it affects the balance of wealth and power in the Quad.
  • Not Enough to Bury: The fugitive the team pursues in the Cold Open of the fourth episode of the first season grabs the wrong power line when trying to escape, and... well, they end up bringing him back for the bounty in a sack. A fairly small sack.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Cybernetic enhancement is tolerated, but only to a limited extent. Too much enhancement and the person isn't even considered human by law. 26% is considered well over the legal limit. RAC agents are not allowed any mods at all.
  • Off with His Head!: Sabine decapitates Turin's interrogator using the metal rope of her shackles as an improvised garrote.
  • Oh, Crap!: At the end of the pilot episode, when Dutch picks up the red box.
  • Oh My Gods!: "Thank the Trees" is a popular oath among Qreshi nobility. Trees seem to have some kind of sacred significance to people in the Quad: the blessings Alvis bestows references trees and mother roots. Tree symbolism is also prevalent among the Sixes, as their internal police is called Black Root.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Quad is entirely owned by the Company, the Mega-Corp that runs the system and is its government. Ownership of stock in the company is proportional to the amount of ancestral land one owns in Qresh, the central planet.
  • One-Product Planet: The moon Leith is a farm world, producing most of the food on the Quad.
  • Over-the-Top Secret: Most RAC agents operate under the belief that there are five levels of seniority and a central command authority through which warrants are funneled. But then it turns out that there is a Level 6 program and an ultra-top-secret organization above that level that is actually secretly calling the shots.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • Dutch is short and slim, yet highly trained in combat, beating up people far larger (including many men).
    • Calvert in Season 5 has much the same build, yet she takes on Dutch, Johnny and D'Avin at the same time, holding them off quite well for a time until she's overwhelmed. Justified in this case, as she's using stimulants of some sort.
  • Planet of Hats: Each of the inhabited worlds on the Quad has some distinct characteristics:
  • Platonic Life-Partners: As pointed out by their bartender, Dutch and John do everything together except have sex.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A literal example in "Attack the Rack." In a pitched fight, Dutch fights Banyon, who she's convinced is a Hullen thanks to her high ranking and the fact she's been against the Killjoys all this time. Dutch stabs Banyon and when the woman staggers from it, scoffs "drop the act, we know it heals." At which point, she sees the wound isn't healing. Too late, Dutch realizes Banyon is human and doesn't know a thing about the Hullens. She only took the job because she wanted to know why agents were going AWOL and assumed Dutch was somehow involved and that's why she was hostile. Both women realize they were too busy being suspicious of each other to realize they were on the same side, something Banyon lampshades before she dies.
  • Power Trio: The main team. Fancy claims it's a bad setup, citing statistics of past trios that also failed, usually because two of the three end up having sex and wrecking the dynamic. John actually tries to nip that in the bud by asking D'avin not to sleep with Dutch. He does anyway.
  • Pregnant Badass:
    • In 'Vessel', the heavily pregnant surrogate Constance leads the charge against the assassins with a rifle and kicks copious amounts of ass. Justified in that she's just had an adrenaline injection, before which she was fragile enough to be seen as needing bed rest - though even in that state, she was still badass enough to stab someone trying to hold her hostage.
    • Delle Seyah Kendry shows no sign of her pregnancy slowing her throughout season 4.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Pawter forces people to run into the wall surrounding Old Town by reconfiguring its force field to drive them into a rage against it, until it shorts out due to the impacts.
  • Psychic Strangle: Aneela exhibits the power to do this, while levitating her victim no less, to a fellow Hullen (by controlling their Green) in the end of "Necropolis Now" when she emerges from bathing in Green and learns Kendry was taken. Possibly just for torture since it is preceded by causing two to drop dead upon her simply uttering "die". This was to a pair of lower-ranking soldiers though, so she might lack the strength to do an insta-kill on a high-ranker. She had plenty juice left over to cause subsequent mooks to bleed from the ears.
  • Public Execution: One of the Company's methods of keeping it's people in check is by publicly exposing criminals to Black Rain, acid rain so corrosive that it dissolves organic matter in minutes.

  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Romwell looks like a young man, but is actually 432 due to nanites that keep him from aging.
    • Potentially any Level 6, as the Plasma halts their aging at the point of the procedure. Specific examples are Sabine, who is actually 89 and Khlyen, who is several hundred years old.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Level Six agents and others infected with the Super Serum can heal from pretty much any injury, but massive brain trauma is instantly fatal. This can be accomplished either by decapitation or a special knife used by the Black Root which is designed to cause as much brain damage as possible when stabbed into the head.
  • The Reveal:
    • Red 17 is Level 6 of the RAC, situated on the moon Arkyn. RAC agents of sufficient skill are forcibly taken, genetically modified, and turned into Super Soldiers for an unknown purpose. D'avin and Fancy are taken there, with Fancy already undergoing treatment and D'avin soon to join him.
    • When John first met Dutch, he broke into Lucy and was shot by Dutch while she was wearing a blood-soaked wedding dress. It seems like a weird Noodle Incident at first, until we learn that Khlyen "lost" Dutch six years ago when he killed her husband.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In episode 5, we never do find out what the "Red 17" that the interrogation program was looking for was. The guard didn't know, and the program was so glitched out that it might not have even known. It's eventually revealed in the season finale, and one can see why the military took an interest.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The "True Leithians" may be the first example of this trope Recycled INSPACE. They are a group of extreme nationalists who resent the fact that seventh generation Westerlyns are going to be allowed to settle on Leith and be given land. On top of being deeply racist, paranoid and mistrustful of the government, they are stockpiling weapons and live in survivalist style farm compounds.
  • Robo Ship: In-Universe. John flirts with Lucy's AI and treats the ship like a living being whereas Dutch sees Lucy as a tool to be used. Lucy, in return, prioritizes John's well-being over Dutch's.
  • Royal Harem: Dutch was raised in one of these, were she was taught 3 things: killing people, marrying royalty and dancing.
  • Royal Inbreeding: Jelco has a heart condition that requires daily surgery on account of several generations of inbreeding. Pawter also lampshades this, saying, "All the Nine grow up together. We're an incestuous little dynasty."
  • Rules Lawyer: Dutch shows an ability to use RAC regulations to avoid having to do things she finds distasteful while fulfilling the spirit of her contracts.
  • Running Gag: Everyone, D'avin especially, loves to make comments about Turin's hair.
  • Sapient Ship: The Lucy has an advanced A.I. and for all intends and purposes is treated as another member of the crew.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Dutch gets out of violating the RAC oath with no consequences, a fact that surprises even her. It's implied Khlyen influenced the council.
  • Secret Police: Black Root, an organization within the RAC's Level Six, serves as one for them.
  • Secret Testof Character: When Sabine decapitates Turin's interrogator, secretly a Six mole, he congratulates her for passing his test. Sabine calls him on lying, so he just blithely says it would have been cool if it were one.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Jaqobis brothers. Younger brother John has a Machine Empathy with their Sapient Ship, Lucy, and is willing to do favors for his favorite Hooker with a Heart of Gold at Pree's tavern (within legitimate RAC channels). Older brother D'avin is a macho soldier boy who usually considers violence as the first solution and has some PTSD problems from his service.
  • Series Continuity Error: The first season states on multiple occasions that D'avin was in the military for 9 years. In season 3, he suddenly says that he was in the military for 15 years.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Dutch and D'avin spend all of 'Reckoning Ball' trying to implant a false memory into Kitaan, an imprisoned Hullen, and then using her connection to the green plasma in order to lure Aneela into a trap. Kitaan figures out what is going on, escapes, and then is able to gain access to some plasma and reveal the truth before Dutch can stop her, rendering the entire plot-line pointless.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: D’avin has constant and terrible nightmares about his time in the military. He also has flashbacks to combat, hair-trigger violent tendencies and other obvious symptoms of PTSD. He has to buy off his doctor to get a passing psych evaluation to join the RAC, although she insists on treating him too. He makes some real progress as the first season goes on, and these symptoms fade and become less noticeable as he does so.
  • Sherlock Scan: Hullen Johnny pulls off a textbook example in Johnny Dangerously. He looks around the room at tiny details of the people with guns in the room, combines them with a few earlier insignificant comments, and then with a comical *DING!* noise figures out that they're being conned. And then he dispatches them all within seconds.
  • Shout-Out:
    • According to this, the scene in "Johnny Be Good" where Jelco requests that the Company guards send in "F-Squad" is a nod to Austin Powers.
    • In "The Wolf You Feed", Zeph stymies John's backdoor hack into Lucy with a hologram that wags its finger and begins its message with "Ah ah ah!", an obvious reference to Jurassic Park.
    • The opening scene of the season 3 finale includes a shot that's a clear imitation of The Last Supper, right down to the hand gestures.
  • The Sociopath: The Sixes are devoid of empathy or compassion thanks to the serum, though the process works better on those who qualify in the first place. Sabine claims Khlyen groomed Dutch as one so she'd have a better chance of surviving the serum. It's apparently why she's so close with the Jaqobis brothers, since their personalities are such a contrast from this.
  • Something Only They Would Say: In season 4, a Hullen is trying to save Pree and Gared on Turin's behalf (long story), but they're unwilling to believe he's on their side. He decides to imitate Turin's "Goddammit!", and they immediately believe him.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The theme for season two suggests a much more lighthearted romp than the show actually is. It sounds like it should be playing over a cheesy 80's throwback action show where every line is delivered with a wry grin and a wink.
  • Space Station: The RAC's headquarters in the Quad is a huge, intimidating station in orbit above Arkyn. Because of its layout it looks like a Mile-Long Ship at first glance and may double as such.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Dutch pulls this on Khlyen, betting he cares enough about her safety that he'll answer her questions if it means saving her life. She turns out to be right.
  • Subspace Ansible: It is implied that there is one of these installed in the upper levels of the RAC Headquarters, since the organization's interstellar affairs and communications are run from there. However, season 2 explains that as far as most people in the J are concerned, this technology does not exist, so only Khlyen and his group have access to it through the Plasma, being able to send information from one end of the galaxy to the other and have real time mind melds across interstellar distances.
  • That Man Is Dead: How Dutch reacts to being called Yala by her old mentor.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • The Company's way of dealing with a labor strike involves carpet-bombing.
    • Also its response to a disease outbreak in Oldtown in season 4.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Dutch has an absolute policy against taking kill warrants and shows great restraint in the application of lethal force, despite being fully authorized to take such warrants. Averted for the RAC and some of its other agents; they'll issue and execute kill orders without hesitation. In fact, a RAC agent who accepts a kill warrant and doesn't complete it becomes the subject of a kill warrant. This nearly bites Dutch in the ass with the RAC when she manages to get D'avin's warrant cancelled instead of fulfilling it.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: As much as the Company exploits and abuses the Westerlyns, if a family works for them hard and stays out of trouble, the 7th generation will be allowed to emigrate to Leith permanently and be given land there. Subverted as the Company had no idea any would actually stick it out and break their contract.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The Scarbacks, a monastic order, seek enlightenment through pain. Alvis says that his getting scarred by the Black Rain (see Public Execution above) will make him the envy of the other members of his order.
    • Ultimately averted, though, when Alvis is arrested by Company cops and roughed up some (blood on his face and rope burns on his wrists, but no major injuries) to get more information on his revolutionary compatriots out of him and to make him 'confess' his involvement in the false flag terror attack of Leith. He caved, but he claims the confession was because they also threatened the rest of the Scarback order.
      Alvis: "Turns out, I don't like non-consensual pain so much."
  • True Neutral: Invoked. One of the central tenets of the RAC is that they are absolutely neutral in all disputes and politics, which guarantees their professionalism when handling any warrant that comes their way.
  • Truth Serum: Dutch is interrogated with something called micro-leeches, which can sense when you're telling a lie and cause you to vomit blood.
    • In another episode, she and John are dosed with Truth Jakk, which causes them to spout all of the things that they resent about one another. Given that he'd just discovered that she'd been blocking him from gaining his Level 5 clearance and she was still getting over him running out on the team for three months, the conversation got very personal very quickly.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Season 2 divides screentime between Dutch and D'avin's hunt for Kyhlen and the other Sixes, and John and Pawter's mission to shut down the wall surrounding Old Town.
    • Likewise, the first few episodes of season 3 split time between Dutch and D'avin's fight against the Hullen, and John's encounter with the Hack-mods while searching for Clara.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Dutch was one, and signed up with the RAC and refuses to take kill warrants (despite being fully authorized to at her level). Her former controller is not so willing to let her go, unfortunately...

  • Unproblematic Prostitution: Despite being a Wretched Hive, prostitution in Westerley is not shown to be any worse than any profession there. John, one of the heroes, is even shown to be a regular patron and their pimp is also the crew's bartender and friend.
    • In season 4, Pree off-handedly mentions that some time ago he worked as a "sexor" in that bar himself. Together with the earlier given information that sex work is how many new immigrants to Westerly first make a living (Pree offers this option to Johnny and D'avin on separate occasions), and that Pree did something awful (worse than non-fatal stabbing anyway) to the previous owner of the bar to gain the establishment for himself, this implies a backstory where the previous bar owner / pimp was abusing the sex workers, and the recently arrived ex-mercenary Pree put an end to it and then took over as the new, much more ethical manager of the sex workers. It's never actually stated that they work for him or shown that their customers pay him, only that the sex workers rent rooms in the upper level and that he can make announcements like "sexors are 20% off for the rest of the night" - which he might just say to keep customers around to sell more drinks and then reimburse the sex workers later. So Pree might not actually be a pimp in the conventional sense, more like a manager / landlord. The bar's "sexors" might well be so content because they have health care (Pawter) and protection (Pree keeps Dutch & Co. as bouncers and is himself very capable as well) but they aren't forced to give up most of the money they make and they aren't getting beaten to enforce obedience.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: D'avin basically kick-started the entire plot in his search for an explanation about his lost memories. Searching for the doctor responsible got a kill warrant issued on him, John took it to protect D'avin, and Khlyen assumed Dutch was ready to be recruited because John took the warrant under her name as he doesn't have the clearance.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: From the fifth episode onwards, hints that something's coming are dropped at least once an episode.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: RAC warrants are a variation on this. Killjoys claim the jobs they want, which are rated on a scale from 1 to 5. The rating serves several purposes: it restricts warrants to agents cleared for them (Dutch is the only member of the crew qualified for level 5 warrants) and indicates the type of job. "Black" warrants are done derby-style, with multiple teams competing to collect the bounty by being the first to complete the warrant. From the website: Level 1 is item retrieval, 2 is escort/prisoner transfer, 3 is a live capture warrant, 4 is dead or alive (alive seems to be preferred), and 5 is an explicit kill order.
  • Weird Trade Union: The RAC is a guild of bounty hunters, which doubles as Murder, Inc. when a kill warrant is issued. Space salvage-and-demolition jobs apparently also falls under their mandate, though there are "ship-pickers" who will clean out derelict vessels if they find them first. It's implied to have a much more sinister purpose under Khlyen, and the bounty hunter operation is a front/recruiting arm.
  • Weld the Lock: D'avin has access to Abnormal Ammo with this feature.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The first season finale, "Escape Velocity". Old Town is bombed by the Company under the pretense of quelling revolutionaries, with the added bonus that they don't have to honor their immigration contract. D'avin is kidnapped by Khlyen and taken to Arkyn to be forcibly inducted into Level 6, a Super Soldier program under the codename Red 17, the headquarters of which also houses a scaled up version of the super advanced computer Khlyen has in his office at the RAC, at least a kilometer in diameter. Finally, Delle Seyah Kendry engineers a coup on Qresh, killing off all but a few families allied with her.
    • The second season premiere. The crew are trying to regain their bearings after the previous season's finale. The nature of Level 6 RAC agents is revealed: they are bioaugmented to be able to heal from wounds that would be fatal to anybody else. There is also a significant memory imprinting process. The reason for D'avin's abduction is revealed: Khlyen is running his own gambit within the RAC and was trying to create a Level 6 agent loyal only to him who can keep tabs on Dutch. But, for whatever reason, D'avin is immune to the bioaugmentation process. Then, it turns out that there is an even higher command structure within the RAC that most agents aren't even aware of. Also, following the events of the previous season, Old Town has been locked away from the rest of the Quad with the expectation that the people trapped within will destroy themselves.
  • Wham Shot: "I Love Lucy" ends with Sabine lying seemingly dead on the floor oozing the green plasma after having sex with D'avin. The following episode confirms that she is a Level 6 and sex with D'avin's caused a bad reaction with the Plasma so strong it put her in a coma.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • By the end of the first season, the fate of every character is known, except for Turin, who was last seen being dragged away by Khlyen, severely injured but still alive. He eventually turns back up again in season 2, almost fully recovered from the injuries.
    • By the end of the second season, Seyah Kendry has been shot in the stomach and left to bleed to death in an Old Town alley, but her ultimate fate is left unclear. She returns, very much alive, in season three.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Bioaugmentation is commonplace but there are laws in place preventing people from being modified too much. Clara, a young woman Dutch and John come across, was forcibly augmented until 26% of her body was cybernetic. Not only is this well beyond the legal limit, this makes her non-human in the eyes of the law and the RAC.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Romwell is not happy with his immortality, saying it only leads you to realize how much you've lost as time passes.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Played with in 'Come the Rain'. John jumps through amazing hoops to try to resolve a hostage situation in Pree's bar peacefully. In the end, he fails to placate the hostage-takers and winds up just shooting them with a bolt gun, the implication being he could have just done that all along but didn't want anybody to die. He's unhappy with the resolution, to say the least.
  • Wilhelm Scream: One of the scavengers lets one out after being shocked by Lucy's defense system in 'The Sugar Point Run'.
  • World of Badass: Nearly everyone in the Quad System is either a skilled fighter, a strong-willed Determinator, or a Chessmaster to make Machiavelli proud. And that's not even counting the Badass Normal RAC agents, or Khlyen's faction.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • One of Dutch and Johnny's standard ploys is to pretend that she's his pretty but incompetent assistant. People usually believe it long enough for them to get the upper hand.
    • In "Enemy Khlyen", Turin shoots Dutch in the leg, reasoning that her friends/allies will show up to help. It works... except the "ally" who shows up is Khlyen, who introduces himself with a sword through Turin's gut.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks:
    • The moon Westerley is a hellhole and the rest of the Quad treats its people like crap. Every company town is half Industrial Ghetto, half Wretched Hive, the only exception being Sugar Point, a walled up bombed out ruin being fought over by Disaster Scavengers and a psychotic crime lord. And then there's the Badlands, a toxic desert infested with Outlaws, the very air of which can cause a ship to explode.
    • To a lesser degree the moon Leith is this when compared to Qresh, since the Qreshi look down on the Leithians as unsophisticated. It doesn't help that most Leithians are descended from impoverished Qreshis.
  • Your Head Asplode: Dutch threatens Sabine with this if she disobeys, using an explosive leash.
    • D'avin can control the green plasma inside of Sixes and cause their eyeballs (and presumably brains) to explode. Unfortunately, he discovers this while being strangled by a Six whose eyeballs then explode all over his face.


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